My most sincere apologies before we even begin, friends! Because Janette Maclean‘s home is going to make you want to shop. And collect. And shop some more. And then collect some more. For antiques and uniques of any genre, treasures without a care about provenance, and anything and everything one-of-a-kind meaningful in between. This is a home decorated with layers and layers of love and wanderlust, brightening today like an unexpected postcard from the other side of the world. Please enjoy it!
Q: Such a cute family! Introduce yourselves to us, please!
A: Our home is made up of my lovely hubby Jason who runs his own telecommunications business, and me, Janette, a full-time mama and freelance interior designer when I have a free moment, our three-year old Magnus, our one-year old Freya, and Jack the sausage dog.
Q: How did this home become yours?
A: It was kind of your classic “We are not looking for a house” situation, and BAM! There it was! I was out walking with Magnus and Jack (pre-Freya) and stumbled upon the open home. Jason had a look on the very next weekend and loved it, too. Yay!
We loved that it had very traditional features, but the previous owners had renovated the back and added some lovely architectural elements like industrial windows and doors; it has a kind of urban feel at the back of the house. Getting this house was a very protracted affair, and it took almost six months for the deal to be sealed.
The house was much bigger than our previous house, but it works for us really well. Jason keeps an office upstairs, and shortly after moving in, I fell pregnant with Freya, so there’s always been the room we’ve needed. Plus it is nice to have some space for when our family comes to visit.
The house was in great shape, so we only freshened things up with paint inside and re-sanded and stained the floors, as well as adding some window treatments.
Q: New Zealand! Is it as magical as we imagine? Tell us how wonderful it is to live there! How is it for raising kids?
A: It is so magical! I am originally from California, raised by Danish immigrant parents. I lived in San Francisco before moving to Auckland, and loved it! I think I’d still be there today if Jason hadn’t swept me off my feet!
We met while traveling around Europe and the UK. Jason had been away from New Zealand for about ten years, so it was a huge change for both of us deciding to put down roots. I have to admit, the first couple of years were really hard with no family and friends, but slowly that changed. Now, 12 years on, we have some amazing friends.
We live quite centrally in Auckland so we can walk to all the lovely cafes and shops — the cafe culture here is unbeatable! The beach and the harbor are just down the road, so there is never a shortage of things to do. We are super lucky to go to the States at least once or twice a year, or else my family comes to see us. Mind you, this is getting more challenging with two kiddies. I don’t know how you travel with six kids, Gabrielle and Ben Blair! You deserve sainthood, in my book!
Q: On a related note, do you ever feel as though you’re on the edge of the world? You’re about 21 hours’ flight time from me right now! Are there challenges to being so remote?
A: There have been challenges, for sure. As I mentioned before, I definitely miss family and friends, but thankfully the world has become a smaller place thanks to the good old internet.
Jason’s family is fantastic; they live down in Wellington, so we try to get there as often as we can. I did get a bit of island fever when I first moved over, but with places like Australia and Fiji just a skip and a hop away and 12 hours travel to California, I’ve gotten over it. I guess I am kind of used to it as my brother and I traveled to Denmark every year to visit family, so it doesn’t seem insurmountable. I know Jason and I feel so blessed to have done the traveling that we have had the chance to do, and I hope that we can do the same with our kids.
Q: Your home is beyond lovely, but it also seems really sturdy. What’s your basic approach to living with kids with very nice things all around?
A: I have always had a slightly OCD cleaning thing, but I have had to relax since having two children. Otherwise, I would just clean all day long! Now, Jason and I generally wait until the end of the day and get Magnus to help with his room and do a tidy-up before bed. Jason is amazing on the chore front and is a great cook to boot, so really I am surplus to requirements.
Seriously, I think because we don’t have the close family network, we really have to be an amazing team to make it all work. Otherwise, the wheels would fall off.
Q: Where is your best source for finding the treasures in your home?
A: I am a total magpie. Always have been. I have many memories being dragged around to flea markets and thrift stores, which at the time I hated because I thought it was so uncool! (I was desperate to hang out at the mall, which in hindsight wasn’t so cool!) So, collecting just seeped into my veins, I guess, so much so that if I walk into a particularly good junk shop or flea market, my pulse races and I get super excited to the point that I can hardly contain myself! The junkier the shop, the better; I don’t like them to be too fancy pants!
In the last few years, I have started going to auction houses more and more, and have picked up some amazing pieces at reasonable prices. I like the fact that antiques are green. It is a nice feeling to give a piece of furniture a new lease on life, and I prefer them to have a few bumps and scrapes to show they have had a good life. It helps with kids, too, as they are not always easy on the furniture!
We never buy anything with the express purpose that it has to be for this or that space. We just buy what we love, and then I try my damnedest to make it work! I am also lucky that I have inherited a few lovely pieces from the Danish side of my family. The chandelier in Freya’s room is from my Mom’s eccentric spinster godmother, who would be thrilled if she knew it had traveled from Denmark to California to New Zealand! She loved to travel herself, so I feel like a part of her is here with us.
Q: How do you edit so much stuff to look so airy and so well put together? Are there tricks you can share? Like your all-white bookshelves next to one full of colored books — so cool how they play off each other!
A: Funny, but I never really planned that! I have a bit of a magazine habit and have way too many, so I just started consolidating them on one side of the bookshelf; weirdly, all the spines of the magazines were white so it just works! When we moved in, a lot of the shelves were dark wood and we were worried that all white might look a bit too austere, but once we put all of our bits and pieces in…they came to life.
Q: Tell us about our favorite room in your home; what makes it so lovely to you? And is this the same room the rest of your family loves, too?
A: That’s a tough one! The kitchen and dining area is where we spend most of our time, and it’s definitely the most robust. It is also great for when friends come over as you can be prepping things in the kitchen but still have a chat and a coffee or glass of wine. The kids love it because they can play inside and run out back and I can keep an eye on them and they can’t get in too much trouble.
For my own selfish reasons, I would have to say the front living room is my favorite. It is generally the tidiest room — except when Magnus decided to build his forts in there! — so when the kids are in bed, I can sneak up there and read or watch some television and relax in a grown up room!
Q: What’s your favorite part about living with your own kids?
A: Now that Freya has started walking and Magnus is very boisterous (to put it mildly!) it really can be a bit crazy, but I love the craziness! I know that there will come a time when I will look back at this time with such fondness, and I try to remember that every day. The days are long, but the years short…so true!
Q: Please finish the sentence: I wish I had known…
A: I wish I had known not to let the little things stress me out. They really will not matter ten years from now…or even ten minutes from now! I really have to work hard on this concept as I can be a bit of a worrier, but it has definitely been a bit easier since losing my Dad a few years ago to Melanoma to let the unimportant stuff go and not waste time worrying about the minutiae!
Thank you, Janette, for taking us on such a cool tour! If your home was a shop, I’d happily buy it all.
Friends, I just loved when Janette said “I think because we don’t have the close family network, we really have to be an amazing team to make it all work. Otherwise, the wheels would fall off.” Are any of you in the same situation, living apart from your extended families and relying heavily on each other? I’d love to hear your stories of how you keep the wheels on! (For us, Ben Blair and I run errands in France as a team. His French is much stronger than mine, and I just feel better with him by my side!)